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General News    H1'ed 2/2/17

Legitimizing Plunder at Standing Rock Part I

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The blurring of lines between funding, hosting and organizations is widespread. Direct contributions can be made to the fund via PayPal "to reduce processing fees" according to the "Sacred Stone Solidarity Collective" fact website. There is no public accounting for contributions made through PayPal. (Source) In addition, "a team called the Red Owl Legal Collective maintains a legal support tent at the camp and consults with people while in custody."

Without proper accounting and paperwork, the blurring of lines between the legal collective, Sacred Stone and Red Owl is not a model of transparency. Are members of the Red Owl Collective paid for their legal work? If so, there should be another EIN number unless they fall under the umbrella of the Sacred Stone Camp, which so far has not provided one.

A second email was sent requesting numbers to that effect. Thane Maxwell of the Freshet Collective, and also of Honor the Earth, responded. Maxwell offered the clarification that the 501 (c) (4) status has not yet been received, but that Freshnet is incorporated as a non-profit in the State of Minnesota.

Maxwell also said, "Our bookkeeper is currently preparing a 2016 financial summary and we are happy to pass that on to you once it is complete. I can tell you that we have spent over $500,000 so far and that the vast majority of that went towards bonds to get people out of jail (many of those bonds were blatantly inflated)."

The website says, "So far, we have spent nearly $300,000 just to get people out of jail." That leaves $200,000 unaccounted for if Maxwell is correct in his estimation.

Surprisingly, Maxwell insisted, "It is critical that whenever we talk about this legal defense fund, we emphasize the fact that The Freshet Collective has no legal obligation to provide funds for anyone. We exist to support water protectors who do not have the resources to defend themselves, but our decisions regarding fund use and dispersal are entirely discretionary."

This brings us back to the IRS mandate that requires a 501(c) (4) organization must not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare. It would seem to indicate a legal obligation.

Like Allard, Maxwell seemed to want to err on the side of caution when it comes to transparency. In an email to the Teton Times he said, "We want transparency too and the people have a right to know what's going on with this money. But we also have to be careful."

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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